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SHRI ADI SHANKARACHARYA JAYANTI

Do you know why we celebrate Shri Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti? Know more about this festival!

Shri  Adi  Shankaracharya  Jayanti
Date: 20th April 2018

Shri  Adi  Shankaracharya Swami Jayanti (Birthday) is celebrated on the fifth day of Shukla Paksha of Vaishakha month, as per Hindu calendar. This Vaishakha month has great significance as many divine teachers and sages were born this month. Shri Adi Shankaracharya was one such great Indian philosopher and Guru (teacher). He had combined Advaita – Vedanta (school of Hinduism to the path of spiritual realization) thesis and spread the teachings of Hindu culture all over India. The great guru Shankaracharya who had re-established the Hindu philosophy, was born approximately 1000 years ago in the village called ‘Kaladi’ in Kerala state, South India. He was born to a Brahmin couple Shuvguru-Aryamba.

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Even  after years  of marriage, Brahmin couple was childless. The couple worshipped Lord Shankar (Lord Shiva)  to get  children. Having satisfied with honest prayers, Lord Shiva appeared in their dreams and  asked to express their wish. The couple requested Him to bless them with a child having long life as well as  fame, stretching  worldwide. Lord Shiva replied, the child will either have  long life or worldwide fame.  The couple chose the fame over long life of the child.

A son was born to the couple as incarnation Lord Shiva. He was named as Shankar. He was one of the most intelligent among all boys of his age. He mastered ‘Vedas’ while he was 8 years old. He had memorised Hindu scriptures at the age of 12. He wrote many  Hindu Granthas (sacred text)  at the age of 16 years. Some of these Granthas include Bramhasutras, Vishnusahasranaam  and written comments on various other Granthas  etc. These Granthas are so magnificent that they cannot be completely understood by a human being in his/her one life!
 Next sixteen years he spent spreading Advaita Vedanta all over India. At the tender age of  32, he left for Heavenly abode  in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand state. He along with other Hindu preachers, played an important iconic role in securing, rejuvenating and establishing  values of Hinduism. By recalling his name only, we find pride and we bow down with respect. It is  because of Shri Adi Shankaracharya’s stupendous  work in Vedic culture, we could retain the dignity of our Hindu culture. He founded Peethas at Jagannathpuri, Shrungeri, Dwarka and Badrinath and fifth one at Kanchi. Thus people remember him on his birthday and thank him for to protect and invigorate Hindu culture.
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Festivals

Akshay Tritiya

Do you know why we celebrate Akshay Tritiya? Read to know more about this festival!

AKSHAY TRITIYA

Date: 18th April 2018
Other Names: Akha Teej

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Akshay Tritiya is celebrated on third day of Vaishakh month, as per the Hindu calendar. The name itself signifies it to be indestructible. This day is considered as one of the, three and a half auspicious days, suggested in Shastras, that offers good luck in terms of investments, owning  a property, commencement of a new business, purchases of new vehicles, weddings  etc. It is believed that if one makes a beginning on this day, the success is guaranteed. The Gold, Silver and other jewels bought on this auspicious day, gets multiplied and remain permanently. The Lord Parashurama and Nara Narayana are supposed to have born on this day. In temples, special Havana (offerings with mantras in fire) are performed.

On this day, devotees get up early in the morning before Sunrise. They clean their houses and surroundings.  They greet and offer prayers to Lord Vishnu and chant Vishnu Sahasranaam. Some offer Puja and pray to their Kuldevata (Kula means clan and Devata means deity). People also pray their ancestors on this day and donate wheat, rice, milk to the needy people on behalf of their ancestors. This day has a special importance of donation. It is believed that, God blesses all those who donates anything.

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As Akshay Tritiya falls in the month of March or April (as per Gregorian calendar)  i.e. spring or summer season, the  devotees donate shoes, umbrellas, cooked rice mixed with curd, sugarcane juice or food items considered to be cool in nature, consumable in scorching heat of the  summer. It is also a practice to arrange for free drinking water service for thirsty ones. Various organizations arrange tree plantation events, invite people to plant different trees and request them to nurture these plants. Women gather in the evening to perform some religious formalities.


It is a common faith that if prayers offered to God with dedication, on this day, his/her Doshas (faults) are destroyed. We should pray God and seek their blessings. These blessings help us to overcome all sufferings of our life. On the occasion of Akshay Tritiya, the devotees must greet, revere and pray the God sincerely to protect ourselves from all the existing evils. Specific & special mantras are chanted for wellbeing and prosperity!
ममाखिलपापक्षयपूर्वकसकलशुभफलप्राप्तये
भगवत्प्रीतिकामनयादेवत्रयपूजनमहंकरिष्ये।

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Festivals

Hanuman Jayanti

Do you know why we celeberate Hanuman Jayanti? Read more about this festival!

Hanuman Jayanti is a Hindu festival that celebrates the birthday of Lord Hanuman. Lord Hanuman, an avid devotee of Lord Rama was born on the full moon day of Chaitra month, as per Hindu calendar. This festival is celebrated all over India. In Maharashtra, devotees gather together and recite the kirtans (devotional songs) early in the morning before sunrise. As Lord Hanuman was born at sunrise, special aartis, pujas are performed during the sunrise. 

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Devotees visit Hanuman temples and offer flowers, Prasad. It is believed that Lord Hanuman protects his devotees from evil powers coming towards them. People who are in sade sati (Dosha) phase, offer special prayers to their protector, Lord Hanuman. We know that each rashi (zodic sign) faces sade sati, a period of 7.5 years of their challenging time. In this long period of sade sati, Shani (Saturn) make you face toughest phase of your life (physically and mentally). It is believed that devotees of Lord Hanuman face fewer effects of Sade Sati. Thus they offer prayers and take blessings from Lord Hanuman. In evenings, devotees read Ramayana and Lord Hanuman stories. Many organizations arrange meal events on this occasion. In Tamil Nadu, Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated in Margajhi month of mula nakshtra.

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Ram Navami

Do you know why we celebrate Ram Navami? Know more about this festival!


Ram Navami
Date: 25th March 2018

Ram Navami is one of the most important Hindu spring festivals. On this day, Lord Rama was born in Ayodhya. So Ram Navami is celebrated on the occasion of the birthday of Lord Rama. Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu is believed as a dearest God to all. Thus, devotees celebrate this day by doing pujas in temples or at their homes.

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Ram Navami is marked on the ninth day of Chaitra month, as per the Hindu calendar. As per Gregorian calendar, this festival falls in the month of March or April. On this day, devotees offer prayers to the sun in the morning. In temples, people organize havan (a Hindu ritual, where offerings are made into a consecrated fire). Many devotees visit Ram temples and offer garlands and take blessings. At afternoon, a special aarti (prayer) is offered as it is a birth time of Lord Rama. Some people observe fast on this day. Various organizations arrange meal events on the occasion of Ram Navami.

The temples are filled with the devotees. They sing kirtanas (devotional songs) as well as read Ramayana. They continuously chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and remember Lord Rama. This festival is celebrated with devotion and dedication in Ayodhya, as it is the birthplace of Lord Rama. There is a special Ram Ratha yatra (chariot event) that takes place every year. In this procession, people play characters of Ramayan on the streets. The environment becomes pleasant. Rameshwaram is also another divine place where devotees take a holy bath, offer prayers and take blessings.

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Gudi Padwa

Why do we celebrate Gudi Padwa? Know more about this festival!

Gudi Padwa
Date: 18th March 2018
Other Names: Ugadi,Yugadi, Cheti Chand (Sindhi), Navreh(Kashmiri)

Gudi Padwa is a traditional festival of people living in Maharashtra (Indian State), as they celebrate ‘New Year’ on this day. It is on the first day of Marathi ‘Chaitra’ month (March – April), as per the Hindu calendar. ‘Gudi’ is the flag, which is hoisted on the houses, is a typical symbolic representation of victory against evil. ‘Padwa’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Pratipada’ which means the first day of the lunisolar Hindu calendar. The sun enters the first zodiac sign, Aries (Mesha) on this day. This is also the beginning of the spring season.

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On this day, people get up early, put garlands on the door of their house. They put colourful Rangolis (an Indian art) and welcome the New Year. Gudi is also decorated by the family members with enthusiasm. Firstly, a long wooden stick, probably a bamboo is cleaned and a special sandal paste is applied at the top of it. Then a bright silk cloth or a scarf is used to cover the top of that stick. Garlands of Gathi (sugarcandy), Neem leaves, Mango leaves and flowers are tied on the cloth. This arrangement is finally covered (kept inverted) by a silver or copper Kalash (container, pot). This Gudi, is hoisted outside or on the roof or through the window of the house, is worshipped by the enthusiasts with great spirit of the festival. Special Marathi delicacies like Shrikand Poori (sweet yogurt with an Indian Bread), Puran Poli (Indian sweet bread) are the main attractions on this day.  From this day, celebration of 10 days Ramnavami festival (birthday of Lord Rama) starts.

This festival is also celebrated in the other parts of India. Like ‘Ugadi’ in Andhra Pradesh & Telangana States, ‘Yugadi’ in Karnataka & Konkan, ‘Cheti Chand’ by Sindhi group and ‘Navreh’ in Kashmir. This is also considered as a harvest festival in India, especially in Punjab where people celebrate this festival as ‘Baisakhi’. Hindu people gather and celebrate this festival by greeting each other and praying for peace and prosperity for the New Year ahead!
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Holi

Why do we celebrate Holi? Know more about this festival!

Holi
Date : 1st/2nd March

Holi, a festival of colours, is one of the oldest Hindu festivals. It is celebrated on the full moon day falling in the month of Phalguna (between February end and middle March), as per the Hindu Calender. This festival is a sign of end of winter and arrival of spring season. 

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Holi represents victory of good over evil. This is one of the social festivals, where families come together and celebrate Holi by throwing colours and distributing sweets representing love and affection towards each other. This festival of colours is celebrated for two days. On first day at evening, it is Holika Dahan, or Chhoti Holi (Small Holi) followed by Rangwali Holi which is on the next morning.

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 On Holika Dahan, people gather and celebrate the victory of good over evil, around a big bonfire and perform pujas. On this day, it is believed that Lord Vishnu in Narsimha avtar killed king of the demon Hiranyakashpu. This demon had an evil motive to rule the world. He had ordered every human being to worship him. But Pralhad, who was his son rejected to do so. Angry Hiranykashapu, decided to kill Pralhad with the help of her sister Holika. So, she wrapped herself with protective mask and sat on the fire with Pralhad. But, that protective mask flew from her and covered Pralhad saving him from the fire. And she was burnt and killed in that fire. 

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The next morning people wake up early and meet together to celebrate Rangwali Holi. They greet each other, sing, dance and enjoy special Holi delicacies like Gujiya and Milk Thandai (special milk shake made with almonds, rose petals and saffron). They keep chanting ‘Holi Hai’. Some people visit temples and pray God for the colourful year ahead. Families spend quality time with each other. They forget old grudges and hug each other. So, Holy has a cultural importance. It is believed that Lord Krishna used to celebrate Holi by throwing colours in the sky with their friends in Vrindavan. So, this is one the most awaiting festival, where people are energetic and happy. Holi is not only celebrated in India, but the festival is also spread to Europe and America.

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Maha Shivratri

What is the Importance of Maha Shivratri? Know more about this festival! 

Maha Shivratri
Date : 13th / 14th February

Maha Shivratri is one of the major auspicious Hindu festival. It is the night of Lord Shiva which is observed on 13th Night/14th Day in February (Phalguna, as per the Hindu Calendar) every year, before the start of spring. 

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This day is celebrated by devotion, meditation of Lord Shiva. People observe full day fast to bring good luck in their life. To start this day, people get up early and take bath in the holy river. They visit Shiv temples and offer fruits, milk, water, sweets etc. They worship Lord Shiva in their prayers. They continuously chant ‘OM NAMAH SHIVAY’. Jagran is observed where large number of devotees sing spiritual songs all night.

As per Hindu mythology, on this day, Lord Shiva made a promise to Parvati that he would protect the world and drank the world’s negativity in the form of poison. He also performed Tandav nritya, a divine dance consisting of passion, rage and vigorous energy. Some believe that on this day, Lord Shiva and Parvati got married. Hence this day is considered as auspicious, especially for women. On this day, unmarried women pray to get husband like Lord Shiva, as he is considered as an ideal husband. Married women perform puja and pray for their husband’s long life. It is believed that the one who sincerely prays Lord Shiva, is blessed with all the success and wealth.

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Makar Sankranti

Why we celebrate Makar Sankranti? Know more about this festival!

Makar Sankranti
Date: 14th January (Fixed Date)
Other Names: Pongal, Lohri, Maghi, Uttarayan

This harvest festival is one main Hindu festivals that is celebrated in most parts of India socially. As the name ‘Makar Sankranti’ suggests, it is the day, which symbolizes the movement of the sun into the Makar rashi (Capricorn). Also bigger days start from this day. Kite flying, distributing til-gul ( sesame and jiggery sweet ) are the main attractions.

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Similarly, Lohri in Punjab is a festival dedicated to fire and the sun. It is associated with the harvesting of Rabi crops, which takes place in January. Farmers thank the nature, the sun for their help for bestowing successful harvesting. Hence, they consider this day as the start of their new financial year. Similarly, whole Tamil community of the world celebrates this festival as Pongal. Pongal is a sweet dish made by rice, jaggery, moong dal and milk. People take holy dip in rivers on this auspicious day.